AOL Plans Site Geared Toward Younger Women

logoAOL is planning to launch a new women's lifestyle site skewing toward a younger demographic than its existing AOL Living property.

Expected to launch in the next two to three months, the site will serve as the women's counterpart to AOL's Maxim-like "Asylum" site for men, launched last December. As of March, Asylum had built an audience of 3.1 million, according to comScore.

While AOL declined to comment, an ad the company is running on for an editor for the planned site says it will cover topics including "style (fashion, makeup and home décor), pop culture, food, health, female-focused politics, bargain tips, relationship advice, sex, how-to and humor."

Many of the categories mirror those found on Asylum, which AOL described as "a fun, sarcastic, trendy and sexy site for men" in announcing its launch. The forthcoming lifestyle site will presumably use a similar editorial template, except tailored to women.

By contrast, AOL Living is geared toward a broader women's audience, spanning topics such as health, home, parenting, horoscopes, and diet and fitness. AOL Living was the third-highest-ranked women's community site in March behind Glam Media and iVillage, with an audience of 18 million, according to comScore.

Competition in the category has heated up lately with Yahoo launching its own women's portal--Yahoo Shine--earlier this month. Aimed at women ages 25 to 54, Shine is likely to be a more a direct competitor to AOL Living, however, than the more irreverent women's site AOL has in the works.

The new site is also part of a broader plan by AOL to launch a dozen niche sites by August. Bill Wilson, executive vice president for programming at AOL, told Bloomberg News in February that by year's end, the company may top the 20 to 30 sites it started in 2007.

As part of AOL's shift to an ad-focused strategy, it has also revamped or relaunched other properties, including those focused on sports, news and lifestyles. Portals such as AOL and Yahoo are offering more targeted content as ad dollars increasingly shift to vertical properties online.

As a proportion of online advertising, portals slipped to 19% in 2007 from 24%in 2006, according to Avenue A/Razorfish's digital outlook report released earlier this year.

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